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Australia Holmes and Drinkwater shine for Cowboys

14:17  27 february  2021
14:17  27 february  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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North Queensland coach Todd Payten has some difficult selection issues ahead after strong NRL trial performances by Valentine Holmes and Scott Drinkwater at fullback.

a close up of Valentine Holmes playing a game of football: Valentine Holmes excelled at fullback in the Cowboys' NRL trial win over the Broncos. © Cameron Laird/AAP PHOTOS Valentine Holmes excelled at fullback in the Cowboys' NRL trial win over the Broncos.

The Cowboys flipped the switch after a sluggish first half in their pre-season clash with Brisbane, winning 34-18 in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Payten will relish his side's second-half effort in scoring 28 unanswered points, with Holmes in particular a stand out, after they trailed 18-6 at halftime.

The Cowboys were led up front by rampaging performances from Jason Taumalolo and Francis Molo up the middle.

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Holmes didn't miss off the kicking tee and his switch to fullback for the second half was the catalyst for his team's liveliness in attack.

However Drinkwater was the Cowboys' best in the first half when he played at fullback, including scoring a try from 50 metres out.

With captain Michael Morgan and Jake Clifford seemingly set as the Cowboys' halves, the versatile Drinkwater's role is unclear but his quality is not.

A controversial try to Kyle Feldt began the Cowboys' comeback, after the winger lost control the ball on the line in the 49th minute but was awarded the try with no bunker in use.

It was then time for Holmes to make his presence felt after a Clifford grubber sat up perfectly for him to score under the posts.

Holmes, who started the game on the wing, had his fingerprints on further tries to Mitchell Dunn, Esan Marsters and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

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It was champagne rugby league for the visitors late in the game, showcasing the touted second-phase play that coach Todd Payten has employed.

However it wasn't all fluid for the Cowboys, who were sloppy in the opening 40 minutes.

The Broncos raced to a 12-0 lead with tries to Tesi Niu and David Mead, capitalising on some basic errors from their opposition.

Morgan knocked on from the kick-off, and Clifford's bomb found touch at the end of their first set.

North Queensland's rebuttal came through Drinkwater in the 21st minute, who backed up Morgan off some loose play and had enough pace to race half the field to score.

The Broncos' right edge in attack proved difficult for the Cowboys, who conceded their third try when Brodie Croft put Jake Turpin over just before halftime.

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